Europe is Kaput

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Europe is Kaput event at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Srecko Horvat chaired a discussion with Yanis Varoufakis, Slavoj Žižek and (surprise guest, via video-link of course) Julian Assange.

Search on twitter for #europeiskaput for pictures and tweets from the event (despite the lack of mobile/Wi-Fi signal, we managed).

The one point from the discussion I would like to draw out specifically is the position of the left vis-a-vis the Brexit referendum. Yanis, being (surprisingly) pro-European would like to see Britain as part of the EU. Yanis believes that Europe can and has to reform and that Britain should be within and not without this process. I totally agree with him, but I still have a problem. My problem is that Yanis’ presentation is entirely prospective, about how the EU could become once again an institution that serves its people, more democratic, transparent, responsive. As to what Europe represents now, there is little positive to say. We will have to fight the Referendum campaign before the EU has had the chance to reform (on Yanis, or Cameron’s terms). We are still looking for a positive message as to what the EU is about now that we can put forward to the public. There is little of that in sight still.

Slavoj is not pro-European Union so he would not help us with the above problem. He likened pro-Europeans (in the sense of the EU in its current capitalist incarnation) with Communist apologists who were arguing that the USSR was fine overall, just had a democratic deficit. In his view the EU is not fine overall, it has problems wider than the democratic deficit. I am guessing he would see Brexit more positively than Yani.

Srecko who I talked to over a cigarette break (his, not mine) seems in favour of Britain in the EU, but also seems to think that Corbyn has better chances than I calculate. He did not think that the left will vote for Brexit. I hope he is right.

Finally, I have to note that Yanis, Srecko and a number of people went to eat dinner at the cafe across the hall (nothing fancy). Yanis was very nice when we went to talk to him despite a little provocation on my part (I accused him of calling me “internal-Troika” once). I wish most well known professors were as approachable.

I am hoping Yanis, and his cross-European movement (in development) will help us convince the left here to support Britain in the EU.

@iGlinavos

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18 thoughts on “Europe is Kaput

  1. mikenetherlands says:

    I am afraid this is more the Europe we have to wait….

    http://www.volkskrant.nl/opinie/trek-ijzeren-gordijn-op-tegen-radicale-islam~a4188755/

    (in Dutch, google translate is your best friend.)

    Do you know Ayaan Hirsi Ali ? And do you know the leader of our biggest party Geert Wilders? I hope you can read this with Google translate, it is in Dutch, but I am afraid this is more the future of Europe…. A cold, hard Europe and not the Europe Yanis , you and I wishes . Ans o yes, I am sure Yanis is a very kind person, I only disagree whit him many times. I wish i had the chance to talk with him but I am afraid the chance is very small.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        The different between Hirsi Ali and Varoufakis is of course that Hirsi Ali knows where she is talking about and Yanis a dreamer is. I consider here as one of the most interesting speakers of the world at the moment. Yanis and Wilders are absolute not interesting.
        They don’t fascinate me at all because they are telling the same story over and over. It’s getting boring.

        I should like to talk with Yanis about that, but after he or his spindoctor blocked me after this posting on his blog it is a bit hard:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali

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      • Mike,

        Please understand. Dean Plassaras has created a blog named Yanis Varoufakis. On this blog he republishes speeches and articles that are in the public domain and are about Yanis.

        By doing so he has created a substantial readership which he then can bombard with his own vitriolic visions on Germany, the Germans and Schauble in particular.

        The blog, despite its name has nothing to do with Yanis himself. He has no control over it, like he doesn’t have control over my blog. (Which also is named after him)

        I guess Plassaras is a supporter of the Greek communist party and he only uses Yanis’s name to bring their propaganda to the attention of a broader audience.

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      • yanisvaroufakis.eu is Yanis’ own blog, has been around a lot longer than various commentators. It is only since the summer that Yanis stopped posting original content and the blog is mostly used for publicity

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      • Mike> The different between Hirsi Ali and Varoufakis is of course that Hirsi Ali knows where she is talking about and Yanis a dreamer is.

        You got my point about Ayaan (I don’t know about Yanis, his logic is too ambiguous for me).

        Who and where are the preachers that hijack ancient script to satisfy their lust for dominance.

        Who and where are the hate mongers that poison naive youngsters with an apocalyptic war-and-blood doctrine, up to the point that these youngsters blow up themselves and others.

        Who and where are the little hitlers that turn young men into ruthless killing machines against populations that, like you and I, want nothing more than living a decent life in peace.

        How do we defeat these demons of destruction without falling into the populist trap of indiscriminate hate ourselves.

        That is how I read Ayaan’s message. Europa ist nicht kaputt, if we stand firm and don’t let it happen. (The subtleties of the text may be too difficult for Google translate).

        By the way, there have been a lot of comments on the web about the Verhofstadt-Tsipras exchange in the European Parliament. One was “heaven help them both”. Made me chuckle 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mikenetherlands says:

    That is right. Both Ioannis and I were posing there, I from oktober 2011 and I don’t know how long Ioannis is posting there. Yannis was many times involved in discussions, he was compleet unknown. We both wished him good luck when he got minister. In my opinion van Hofstad is briljant and telling Tsipras exactly the true in that video, in fact I still don’t know what I did wrong.

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    • Mike> … in fact I still don’t know what I did wrong.

      Nothing. But readers might have misunderstood as if Ayaan (in her plea for European self-defence) was an advocate for the cold hard Europe that none of us wants.

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    • @ Mike and Glinavos,

      Ok, I rephrase my first line. Yanis started the blog but at a certain point (perhaps when he became a minister) left the management to Plassaras and no longer has an active involvement with the blog.

      Glivanos owns a wordpress blog and should know how easily this can be done.

      Plassaras rejects every comment that he can’t use to spout his own Marxist propaganda. So in effect the Yanis blog now only serves as a Marxist propaganda vehicle.

      Yanis concerns himself no longer with the blog and never answers questions put to him. It is always Plassares who adds his (Marxist) interpretation to the views of Yanis.

      Should we therefore consider Plassaras as Yanis’s spindoctor? I don’t think so. Yanis calls himself a erratic Marxist, Plassaras is a full blown Marxist.

      Plassaras is just a smart guy who is using the popularity of Yanis to create a bigger audience for his Marxist views than he ever could under is own name.

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    • mikenetherlands says:

      No, I only gave that link of the video! And wrote, Yanis this man is right. (Guy Verhofstadt) That was all. And it was in the same time Ioannis wrote his “Basta!” That was all.

      Yanis frika kalitera parea. Better company. And I really, really hope when our Ioannis become a professor, what surly happens one day, or will be famous, he will stay the same sympathetic host he is now and doesn’t forget his old friends!

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  3. Alex Parkinson says:

    I was massively surprised by quite how little space was given to discussing Varoufakus’ project, especially given that it was supposed to be the theme of the evening. Amidst the back-slapping and joviality no-one was either willing or able to get Zizek on message. Zizek, for all his banging on about being anti love and pro respect was liberal with the former and devoid of the latter. His closing comment that if capitalism ended in the evening, IS would be finished by the morning was so glib it deserves to be posted on Facebook next to a sepia photo of a Native American. Varoufakis’ ideas, when they were allowed to surface were neither challenged or expanded upon. An unchallenged/unaided Varoufakis will be, at best, an ineffective custodian of the Left’s hopes for a European future. If he is going to “help us to convince the left here to support Britain in the EU” he needs a lot more help from us to fashion his ideas into a coherent argument. Given the fact that we are so late in the day and, as you say, there is an almost universal absence of a “positive message” the need is urgent. Neither Hilary Benn’s demands that Corbyn decides which way to go on the referendum before any debate has taken place, nor Zizek’s refusal to critically engage with Varoufakis’ project are particularly helpful. For my money Assange came across as the intellectual heavyweight of the evening and, surprisingly, seemed considerably less deranged than you would expect for someone who has spent the last 3 years holed up in a store-cupboard with the entire military industrial complex out to get him. Deranged nonetheless. Following on from Zizek, Assange, impressive though he was, used forensic detail to paint broad brush strokes which similarly added little to the matter at hand.
    That said, it was still an exhilarating evening.

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    • Interesting summary of the evening. I have come a little weary about all the talks and lectures that Yanis participates in. All very academic and sophisticated but never resulting in goal that could be understood by Joe Average.

      The left doesn’t seem to be able to formulate a common cause like the 8 hour working day.

      I made on my blog a humble attempt. Democratize money. It should benefit most of us and yet nobody seem to care. https://contradictingyanis.wordpress.com/

      Liked by 1 person

      • An inaugural lecture isn’t of course the same as a campaign for establishing a pan European movement of the left. That is what Yanis says he is campaigning for.

        If you don’t want to get stuck to the lecturing circuit, you have to come up with a slogan that not only appeals to the Greek, the Portuguese or the Brits. It should appeal to Dutch and Germans as well.

        Our living circumstances may differ on the surface, but we are all enslaved by the banking lobby and the left should strive to end this kind of slavery.

        If the left is unable to do that, it won’t be able to do anything substantial apart for some minor adjustments.

        So either the left finds a common cause that raises the awareness op people throughout Europe or it remains irrelevant like it is to-day.

        My suggestion is Democratize Money, which has a clear and identifiable opponent. (the banking lobby) and a simple objective, creating money without an inbuilt taxation, to benefit us all.

        Being a manual worker, shopkeeper of professional.

        Liked by 1 person

    • mikenetherlands says:

      Pim:>I have come a little weary about all the talks and lectures that Yanis participates in.<

      Thank god I am not the only person who is getting bored and Varoufakis tired. It is the same, the same and the same story. Over and over
      My advice to Yanis is still start a organic vinegar ore something like that. Become a common person.

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